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Mount Thielsen 4/18/2015

Going into this climb, I was psyched. Not only does this mountain have a short, relatively flat approach, but the summit spire is just RAD- especially as viewed from the trail. The minute Thielsen came into sight, our pace picked up (and we de-layered). I was thankful that I had decided to pack relatively lightly for this climb as the sun rose and the area began to warm up.

Once we cleared the tree line and hit the climber’s trail, we were faced with a combination of mostly-frozen scree (I’d nearly forgotten how fun Cascade mountaineering can be when there’s no snow and ice holding the ground together) and slowly melting snow. I had a few moments of mild panic down low as I retrained myself to walk up the loose stuff but once we hit the actual, steeper, climbing section, my confidence returned to its newfound level and I fell into the process of climbing- thanks, Yvon! Yvon’s book Let My People Go Surfing really helped me begin to think about the process of things and the manner in which I do them. This was the first mountain I’ve been up since reading that book and taking the time to absorb it. I’m not sure if it was the perfect weather or my new introspection, but I truly felt my confidence increase.

The snow was actually wonderful for crampon’ing and the softer, deeper stuff up top made for very secure climbing. It seriously was almost a staircase through certain sections- if you can call sinking up to your hips in snow ‘climbing a staircase.’ That fact aside, the steep sections of climbing were secure and despite my mild nervousness after seeing the avalanche debris on the west face of Thielsen, I felt completely safe.

When we finally reached the base of the rock/mixed climbing, we were greeted by another climber who I fondly referred to as “Snowshoes McGee” since I never actually learned his name. He was down climbing when we reached him and said that he didn’t feel very safe heading up the rock (I’m not sure why since it was pretty windy and I couldn’t really hear him).

We de-crampon’ed, tossed on harnesses, and Andy started to head up, protecting the climb for my own sense of security. Right before he began the climb, three, rad, split-board-toting, girls that we had been yo-yo’ing with made it up to us and I got to make some small talk and hear about their adventures while I belayed Andy up the spire.

Then it was my turn. The climbing went down easily, the rock was more solid than any of the other climbs we’ve done in the cascades to date, and the windy summit was protected on one side by a huge rock so we got to chill out in the sun for a bit and eat lunch before heading down.

One more summit in the books and I couldn’t have asked for more beautiful weather (I eventually stripped down to shorts and a tank top since it was SO WARM!).

It was really amazing meeting the awesome people we met on this climb, and the technical aspect went down like cake. I feel so fortunate, yet again, to have had the luck we’ve had thus far and cannot wait for Mountain #10!

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